San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies, April 22 [2017)

Ugh…

ok.

First, an apology to my few loyal readers.

I’m sorry for this glut of “sports reviews”.

I know some of you are particularly dedicated to cinema.

And so am I.

But the San Antonio Spurs are the only “ticket” in my hometown.

San Antonio (like David Byrne’s “heaven”) “is a place where nothing ever happens.”

Except the Spurs.

When you tell someone, “I’m gonna go watch the game”, they know.

The Spurs.

They may loathe sports.

But that’s all we have.

No football (and this is Texas!).

No baseball (unless you count the Missions…and I don’t).

No hockey (again…this is Texas…hot…no ice…and I don’t count the Rampage).

Rodeo once a year (in February).

No music scene.

No arts scene.

No film scene.

There’s probably some pretty good tejano music to be had, but that’s not really my bag.

And no one has really put the gumbo together for us honkies since Doug Sahm.

And that was A LOOONG TIME AGO.

So we have the Spurs.

And, apologizing in advance for at least a little more of this sports coverage, it’s sort of a tradition for me.

Family time.

Watch the playoffs.

I was a crappy fan this year.

Master’s degree. ¬†Appendectomy.

Nothing really conspired to align my fate with watching the Spurs during the regular season.

[Hell, I remember seeing a bit of a game at the hospital…]

And so tonight was a special, special game.

Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals between seeds 2 and 7.

The Spurs had the second-best record in the league (both conferences combined).

But, unfortunately, the team to best them was in their own conference (the Golden State Warriors).

And so the Spurs drew a slightly (in theory) more formidable opponent as a result of this slightly more inferior record.

The Spurs could have drawn Portland (41-41).

But they ended up with Memphis (43-39).

Similar records, right?

Only two games difference…

But Memphis has been a beast…at least for the past two games.

Game 1 was essentially a Spurs blowout.

Game 2 was more of the same.

Game 3 was a Memphis blowout.

So none of these contests have gone down to the wire.

But this one did.

And then some!

I tell ya, I’m so proud of my home team!

They lost tonight, but they fought…hard!

Kawhi Leonard was magical.

Not perfect.

But darn-near close.

In Games 1 & 2, Kawhi set new marks for himself in terms of playoff career highs in scoring (32 and 37, respectively).

Game 3 was a bit of a letdown.

A “mere” 18 points.

But Kawhi came back in this one…big league! ūüôā

43 points!

I know there was one point at which he scored 16-straight for the Spurs.

And then there’s his free-throw streak…something like 40-in-a-row for the series.

Yeah, he still hasn’t missed a free-throw in this best-of-seven.

That’s an NBA record.

Best start to a series by a single player (in terms of free-throw shooting).

Kawhi hit what could have been the game winner in regulation.

But that was canceled out by Mike Conley.

Then Kawhi hit what could have sent it to double-overtime.

But that was canceled out by Marc Gasol.

And…out of timeouts…and with 0.7 seconds to go, it was essentially over.

Danny Green had one more heave…but it didn’t cut the mustard.

Kawhi.  43 points.  8 rebounds.  6 steals!!!

He had one flub late…

One key turnover.

Which brings up an interesting point.

Memphis left absolutely no room for error in this one.

The Grizzlies were, themselves, horrible on turnovers (committing 23).

But still the Spurs were hanging on for dear life the entire game.

No room to breathe.

No room to let up.

Let’s break this one down a bit further.

David Lee was much better this time out.

He had to start in place of Dewayne Dedmon (who was ill).

Lee only racked up 4 fouls ūüôā

In five frames!

LaMarcus Aldridge was great in spurts.

[which reminds me of a Richard Hell lyric]

Aldridge had some monster jams.

But only 2 rebounds…

In 42 minutes.

Indeed, Memphis kicked the Spurs’ butts on the glass (51 to 37).

Tony Parker had a really great game.

This one would have been another blowout in favor of Memphis had Parker not shown up to play in the first half.

Tony’s performance was a 180 from Game 3: ¬†0 points to 22 points.

And Parker distributed.  5 assists.

Sadly, Danny Green was pretty woeful in this outing.

0 for 6 from three.

Indeed, his stat line looks like a sleeping Richter scale needle.

Zzzz….

Fortunately, Davis Bertans was really good in his limited minutes.

And Pau Gasol had some real fire in his game tonight (especially the 11 rebounds).

Patty Mills distributed the ball (4 assists).

Mills played with lots of energy!

He played his butt off!!

Jonathon Simmons and Kyle Anderson didn’t get much of a chance in this one.

But again we come back to Manu Ginobili.

I hate to say it, but the old fella looks…well, OLD out there.

I believe he’s still yet to score in the series.

And he played 16 minutes tonight.

But he was 0 for 4 from three.  And had 1 lonely assist.

All told, it would have been enough.

If it weren’t for the Grizz.

Zach Randolph wasn’t the monster he was in Game 3, but he still recorded a double-double (12 points and 11 rebounds).

James Ennis III came back down to Earth a bit with his 4 turnovers.

And Marc Gasol, despite the double-double (16 points/12 rebounds) [and the game-winning shot!], committed 7 turnovers (!)…

Which means someone must have been on fire.

And that someone was Mike Conley.

35 points.  9 rebounds (!).  8 assists.

And, as I said, he’s the guy who sent this one into overtime in the first place!

But what about 40-year-old Vince Carter???

13 huge points!  3 huge three-point shots!!!

And JaMychal Green!  14 massive points!

Never underestimate the power (the drive) of revenge!

This guy was a Spur.

And he was cut.

And so there’s a reason he elbows the shit out of Davis Bertans every time he gets near him.

That’s the guy who took his job!

And this is Green’s chance!

To show the Spurs they fucked up when they let him walk.

Best served cold.

Means.

When you least expect it, motherfucker!

-PD

San Antonio Spurs vs. Memphis Grizzlies, April 20 [2017)

Well, that was a tough one!

Back and forth and back and forth…and back and forth.

And then a steamroller!

But let us remember how the steamroller was built.

By snowball!

Sometimes a stumble prevents a fall.

But other times, a stumble is followed by another stumble…and another stumble…and…well, you get the picture.

And those stumbles add up.

Leave it to Spurs’ commentator Sean Elliott to hit the nail on the head.

Indeed, it certainly was as if San Antonio ate a big meal at halftime.

Which brought out the coaching genius of Gregg Popovich.

I would contend that genius is usually mixed about 50/50 with stupidity.

The defining characteristic, though, is BOLDNESS.

Coach Pop saw that his team was not ready to play in the second half.

And so he cracked down.

A bit of tough love.

No superstars spared the rod…

So to the bench went Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, and Danny Green.

It would have been an excellent move…had it worked.

But it didn’t work.

Yet, Popovich is always several steps ahead of the average bear.

I can imagine him thinking, “We don’t really deserve to win this game.”

And it was true.

Memphis played a great first half.

And an even better second half.

But at halftime, this was merely a four-point game.

I hate to say it, but Kawhi Leonard looked tired.

When he saw that Memphis full-court press.

The camera caught his facial expression…

“Oh no, not this again!”

And Kawhi opted to let a bad pass go out of bounds.

Or…

Oops.  Yeah, Tony Parker tried to field it.

And the game went downhill from there.

Maybe Kawhi really got whacked in the head by Marc Gasol in the first half?

These athletes…they don’t want to come out of the game.

The NFL is all over the concussion epidemic…with their vaunted “protocol”.

But what about the NBA?

Is there an independent doctor at each game?

To check out players who have been whacked in the head?

Kawhi’s a tough dude.

But if you get whacked hard enough…by a big water buffalo like Marc Gasol…

You’re gonna be a little disoriented.

And it can linger…

But let’s talk players…stats…strategy…causation.

Why did the Spurs lose?  Why did the Grizzlies win?

Was it all because of one muffed out-of-bounds play?

No.

LaMarcus Aldridge brought it tonight.

16 points and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes.

He played tough. ¬†But his teammates didn’t play with the same aggression.

Kawhi Leonard, as stated, had a bit of a rough night.

Only 18 points.

In 30 minutes.

Yes, the two big stars for San Antonio each played 30 minutes.

And not the SAME 30 minutes.

Which again points to Gregg Popovich being a master planner.

Hey…the game plan might have sucked, but the retreat was elegant! ūüôā

And there is a time and place to retreat.

Lose the battle, win the war.

Don’t flail about to make a statement.

Just accept defeat gracefully…and move on.

Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride…in order to reach your coveted victory.

Dewayne Dedmon also had a rough night.

It started with the early foul trouble.

This threw Popovich’s rotations off for the entire first half.

It meant that Pau Gasol had to come in early.

But we’ll get to PG momentarily.

Tony Parker was pretty bad.

I hate to say it.

It just wasn’t his night.

O points.  O assists.  0 for 4 from the field.

Yikes.

Danny Green had a pretty good first half.

Some nice floaters.  Attacking the basket.  Good athleticism.

But the 3s weren’t falling for Danny. ¬†0 for 4 from beyond the arc.

David Lee’s biggest statistic was fouls.

Really, this was some disrespectful, crooked refereeing on the part of the officiating crew.

Lee picked up 5 fouls in 16 minutes.

Danny Green was also charged with several dubious infractions.

This had the smell of one of those games which the league (NBA bigwigs) had already determined would go to Memphis…unless the Spurs absolutely dominated.

And San Antonio couldn’t overcome the biased officiating.

Coach David Fizdale apparently got bubbly in some “rant” somewheres.

Which just goes to show that complaining works.  Unfortunately.

So Game 3 was one giant “make-up call”.

Which is not to say the Spurs deserved to win. ¬†They didn’t.

One bright spot for the silver and black was our Latvian import Davis Bertans.

This guy got after it out there.

He even frustrated JaMychal Green (which isn’t saying much…considering Green is a goatee shy of being Kendrick Perkins).

[And considering that Green plays second fiddle {in reality} to the master complainer:  Zach Randolph.]

But still:  Bertans came to play.

I was glad to see him get quality minutes.

You know, he doesn’t look scared out there.

He just calmly does his job.

Great player!

Pau Gasol grabbed 8 boards for the Spurs.  But he was 2 of 9 from the field.

Yeah…

Lots of 0 for x and/or 2 for y.

The Spurs eventually leveled out at about 47% from the field…for the night.

But it was no thanks to the usual suspects.

Dejounte Murray had a very productive 7 minutes with 4 points and some great passing.

So that’s 2 players who came to play.

Bertans and Murray.

Five guys who care…that’s all Popovich needs! ūüôā

Patty Mills played a decent game.  11 points.  But just 1 assist.  And 2 turnovers.  And 3 fouls.

When you’re short, and making shots, you gotta get more than 1 assist.

Then again, the starting point guard (Tony Parker), had 0 (zero) assists.

Dejounte Murray (the third-string point guard) had 1 assist in 7 minutes.

Parker played 19 minutes.  Mills 22 minutes.

That’s a lot of minutes with short guys not doing what short guys do.

But maybe we were saving the best for last (like Rick Fox’s Vanessa Williams)?

[briefly]

Yes, the Spur to really shine tonight was Kyle Anderson.

The slowest, lankiest, most awkward player in the NBA.

Who just happens to be a masterful passer (and a much-improved all-around player).

Kyle made one of those early bonehead plays.

Vince Carter got up in his grill.  In the backcourt.

And (oops!)…a completely humiliating turnover!

But Kyle stayed mentally tough.

Don’t freak out.

Just play your game.

Do what you do.

Mine your strengths.

Don’t overreach to “make up” for your flub.

Anderson had 15 points in 18 minutes.  Plus 3 assists.  And he was 6 of 7 from the field.

So we’re up to three guys who care.

Bertans, Murray, and Anderson.

And here comes #4.

Jonathon Simmons.

10 points and 3 assists in 16 minutes.  4 for 5 from the field.  And two big 3-pointers.

So we’re up to a full squad (if we throw in Aldridge).

Bertans (SF), Murray (PG), Anderson (PF), Simmons (SG), and Aldridge (C).

But what about Manu Ginobili?

What the fuck?

10 minutes?

He had 2 assists…

I think Manu was mainly a casualty of the first half foul debacle (which started with Dedmon) and the second-half collapse of the first unit.

Got that?

Meaning, it wasn’t worth it to Popovich to put the most reckless, death-wish-of-a-player into the game in what was essentially a long, drawn-out, slow-motion, garbage-time nightmare for San Antonio.

So what about Memphis?

Zach Randolph came to play.

He was trash in Game 1.

He was good in Game 2.

He was great in Game 3.

21 points and 8 rebounds in 29 minutes.  The old fella had a little extra gas in the tank for this effort.

And he destroyed the Spurs.  9 of 16 from the field (including 1 of 2 from 3-point-land).

But let’s show exactly why the Spurs got their butts kicked.

James Ennis III?!?  12 points.

Andrew Harrison?!?  6 assists.

Wayne Selden?!?  10 points.

I mean, these guys came to play!

And they brought their big dogs with them.

Marc Gasol had 21 points and 6 rebounds.

And he was 2 for 2 from beyond the arc.

Mike Conley was very solid.

[and bloody-well better be…because he’s the highest paid player in the NBA…last I checked]

Conley had 24 points and 8 assists.

The two point guards for Memphis (Conley and Harrison) were running offense.

And guys were making shots.

Memphis was ready to play.

San Antonio was not.

-PD

Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs, April 17 [2017)

Kawhi Leonard.

The last shot of the game.

And I don’t mean that rousing slam dunk.

I mean the last cinematic “shot” of the game.

Clock running down.

Game in the bag.

And Kawhi, exhausted, hunches over…hands on knees…grabbing his shorts, so to speak.

That is the trademark of Mr. Leonard.

Work.

In Game 1 of this opening round playoff series, Leonard had a new career high in points with 32.

But that wasn’t good enough.

Not for Kawhi.

And that’s why he’s the most dangerous player in the NBA.

He always wants to improve.

And history has shown, in these past few years, that he does.

Immensely!

So Kawhi went for 37 tonight.

ANOTHER career high!

But how did he get it???

Free throws.

For fucksakes!  19 for 19 at the line.

And in Game 1, he was 9 for 9 from the charity stripe.

28 free attempts, 28 makes.  Through two games.

But that exhaustion…that’s from work.

Work every play.

Defensively.

Push the ball.  Offensively.

Negotiate your way out of a double team.

Sure.

He’s not guarding a marquee small forward.

Or an explosive shooting guard.

And he isn’t the primary defender on the feisty Mike Conley.

That job has fallen to Danny Green (who’s done a pretty great job!).

But Kawhi is working out there.

And part of it was the Grizzlies’ comeback.

This game was ALMOST the opposite of Game 1.

To start the series, Memphis came out hot.

The Spurs had to claw back.  And then San Antonio ran away with the first contest.

But tonight, the Spurs were ready.

The only problem was they let Memphis back in the game.

And so it got real TENSE out there.

And hence Kawhi needing to play 40 minutes.

He played just 32 in Game 1.

But let’s talk about a few other players.

Speaking of minutes, LaMarcus Aldridge led all Spurs with 42.

That’s a hell of a workload for a guy who was sidelined with a heart arrhythmia not so long ago.

But LaMarcus wants this.  Bad!

Last year was not good enough.

The Spurs didn’t send Timmy Duncan out in style.

In Duncan’s final season, they failed to bring home the ship.

But for Aldridge, this is the quest for #1.

All those seasons in Portland.

Ain’t good enough.

And you can tell by the way this guy is working that he wants that ring and trophy.  Bad!

Tony Parker had another nice game.

Especially from beyond the arc.

Three 3-pointers for the Frenchman!

But even better was Danny Green.

He finally had a good shooting night.

I must admit…I didn’t keep up with the team through the season…owing to my own health problems and other mitigating circumstances.

But Green just hasn’t seemed “on” for a long time.

Not so tonight.

He was letting it fly.  With no hesitation.

And the results were excellent!

David Lee gave the Spurs 14 gritty minutes of fight.

Indeed, the Grizzlies were visibly frustrated in this contest.

Lee has the postseason experience to know exactly how to destabilize opponents.

And he did just that!

Pau Gasol made a couple of big shots.

His three-point stroke looked very fluid and relaxed.

Almost reminded me of Robert Horry ūüôā

For the Grizzlies, Mike Conley was very good.

He has improved so much over the years.

It is great to see him healthy.

And Vince Carter is still an awesome nuisance at age 40 (which just happens to be my age as well).

“Air Canada” is a true professional.

And I really admire his play out there!

But the big story for Memphis was the return to form of Zach Randolph.

When this guy is on, he is a nightmare for opposing teams.

Z-Bo had 18 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough.

Marc Gasol had a rough shooting night.

And without Chandler Parsons and Tony Allen, this is an uphill battle for the Grizzlies.

And so the Spurs pulled it out…behind 37 points and 11 rebounds from Kawhi Leonard.

Again, it wasn’t a flashy performance.

But steady.

But beautiful!

-PD

Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs, April 15 [2017)

What year is it?

Boy…I am tired.

Nothing more humiliating than having to look up the year.

For a second there, I wasn’t sure.

’17? ¬†But we just had an election.

So it’s ’18?

No no…the election was in ’16.

So it’s 2017.

So, obviously, I’m not really qualified to be reviewing ANYTHING at this point.

But we come back to sports…after a long hiatus.

And my home team:  the Spurs.

If you’ve read me before, you’ve probably gathered that I had a relatively sheltered youth.

Lou Reed sang about such a thing in an early Velvet Underground demo.

Other writers (French, perhaps) might refer to it as provincial.

My existence has been completely provincial (if we are to measure America by the New Yorks, the Los Angeles(es), and the Chicagos).

I suppose if I were from Houston, then I could make a case for not being provincial.

But it would be merely academic.

Houston is still just a “numbers” city.

It’s big…sprawling…a “concrete nightmare” (one very wise author called it)…but not a hub of any sort of culture.

So we are told.

[by the people in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago]

All of which is to say that the Spurs (my Spurs) are not the ONLY Spurs in the world.

Nay.

Far from it.

Consider for a moment the Tottenham Hotspur F.C..

Most Americans (USA) need a translation of that last part.

It stands for Football Club.

Europeans and most other inhabitants of the planet will find this necessity for explanation ridiculous.

But we press on.

Tottenham’s soccer team (what the rest of the world calls “football”) are known as the Spurs.

Kind of how The Velvet Underground were known as the Velvets.

[affectionately…by those for whom brevity was a cool essential]

And Tottenham is not just a podunk soccer team.

Nay again.

They play in the Premier League.

That’s the BIG TIME in the British Isles.

Isles?

Well, that’s a whole other problem of definition…

But really, England rules the roost when it comes to the Premier League.

Twenty teams from England.

And one from Wales.

[Cardiff!  Cardiff!  Cardiff!]

Ok, not so much…

So we give the obligatory nod to Swansea City.

And lament for Dublin…and all of Ireland…along with the whole of Scotland.

That strange situation in Britain.

Where you better spend your Scottish notes before entering England…because you will be looked at like you just came from Mars if you try to pass them off…even in Newcastle (or thereabouts).

So, then…

Where the hell is Tottenham?

North London.

Aye!

Not too terribly far from Camden Town.

Five “miles” (as we say).

Close to Waltham Forest.

[oy…wasn’t that the UFO place???]

{In full disclosure, I should mention that my distant relatives were court musicians for Henry VIII…emigrated from Venice}

Continuing, we can’t pass up this opportunity to touch on British demography.

As such, Tottenham was 22.3% “White British” in 2011 (ok…).

And 27.7% “Other White” (a plurality).

Other White?!?

What the fuck does that mean???

Certainly not a problem we have in the United States.

In the United States (generally speaking), if you have stopped speaking with an accent (which diverges from your geographic region) and you are white, then you have lost your ethnicity.

So me, for instance…

Sure…I have a bit of Italian…a bit of French.

But I am overwhelmingly English.

This was something of an embarrassment to me for some time.

Indeed, no ethnicity is as “invisible” in the United States as “English”.

In the U.S., English is merely a language.

To be used…and abused.

But it’s certainly not an ethnicity.

Not anymore.

It’s not even a heritage.

If you are proud to be English in the USA, then you are a white supremacist.

There is very little hyperbole in that statement.

Mercifully, I have recently found that I am much more Irish and Scottish than I had previously known.

[previously assumed to be “not at all”]

N.B. ¬†Irish is still a proud ethnicity in the U.S., but, in general, only in New York and Chicago. ¬†Scottish is mixed into a mongrel label called Scots-Irish (which is like saying Kenyan-Nigerian…sort-of).

So…

I have no ethnicity.

In general.

I’m just “white”.

And I’m supposed to feel “bad” about this.

Even though I had no say in how or whom I was born.

I just appeared one day.

And I was (and continue to be) white.

Which brings us back to “Other White”.

On first glance, I mistook this to be an English slight of the Irish and Scottish.

But then it sinks in.

The good old EU.

Polish, Czech, Bulgarian…etc. etc. etc.

In Tottenham, “Other White” rules.

Which means, the European Union rules Tottenham.

Immigrants have come seeking a better future.

And at least they’ve gotten a football club out of it!

[panem et circenses]

If I was a really devious fucker, I’d end this article thusly: ¬†San Antonio 111, Memphis 82.

But I’m feeling feisty.

All of this is to “frame” my hometown.

Cities in America go by a different set of criteria than in England.

Let’s name the buggers:

-Arsenal (Your Arsenal!) [London]

-Bournemouth [a small city in the smallest two-tier county in England (by population)]

-Burnley [Lancashire County…or is it County Lancashire?]

-Chelsea [London…uh oh]

-Crystal Palace [London…again]

-Everton [God bless…Liverpool!]

-Hull City [East “Riding” of Yorkshire…]

-Leicester [East Midlands…]

-Liverpool [wow…London 3, Liverpool 2!]

-Manchester City [I must admit…my favorites…though I know nothing…about anything]

-Manchester United [Manchester and Liverpool all knotted up at 2]

-Middlesbrough [North (Riding?) Yorkshire…]

-Southampton [Hampshire]

-Stoke City [Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire]

-Sunderland [Tyne and Wear?  This English geography is boggling me mind!]

-Swansea City [the aforementioned odd (Welsh) man/duck out]

-Tottenham Hotspur [our sub-subject]

-Watford [Hertfordshire]

-West Bromwich Albion [West Midlands 1, East Midlands 1]

-West Ham United [London…for fucksakes!]

Ok, so London has four Premier League “football” teams.

And what about Birmingham?  Newcastle?  Sheffield?  Bristol?  Brighton?  York?

Ok, I’m beginning to reach there…

But let’s look at England’s biggest cities.

In “localities” (WTF?) we can see that Leeds has been shafted.

But Birmingham is the biggest loser.

It seems.

In terms of “Primary Urban Areas” (WTGDF?!?).

And, there again, Leeds.

Sheffield, as noted.

And Teeside (!).  (?)

But the Premier League, I gather (not very securely), has a system of “promotion and relegation”.

As august as the league seems, it only dates back to 1992.

[if you can believe that!]

Ok, that’s my 1074-word introduction to a basketball game…in the U.S….which wasn’t even close.

All based on the Spurs’ doppelg√§nger across the pond.

If you’re still with me at this point, you might want to have your head examined.

But we press on.

Briefly.

This was no contest.

Early on.

Memphis looked great.

Spurs closed the gap.

Then the Spurs did a hammer-down on the Grizzlies.

And it is not at all a footnote to mention that San Antonio and Memphis are (last time I checked) the two “fattest” (as in “obese”) cities in the U.S..

Hey, I did my part…worked out twice today! ūüôā

And, if there is any good news in the second-to-last anecdote, it is that San Antonio recently went from #1 fattest to #2.

And Memphis ascended the lard throne.

Which is to say that San Antonio and Memphis are each, in their own ways, SAD cities.

Not “binge eating” cities, but more like the provincial category I mentioned earlier.

Which brings us to the sports “caste system” in the U.S.

San Antonio is what’s known as a “small market team”.

Or, at least, that used to be the case.

There are a few other NBA cities which share this label.

And this label can be “verified” by the lack of any other major sports franchises in the city.

Let’s list the “small market” cities represented solely by the NBA (and foregone by the NFL and MLB):

-Orlando [but hey…they have Disney World, right? ¬†But they play in the Amway Center…’nuff said]

-Portland [Oregon…but at least it’s more excitement than Maine, right?]

-Salt Lake City [appropriately named “the Jazz”…after all those great Mormon bebop musicians]

-San Antonio [yay! ¬†(crickets…)]

-Sacramento [yikes…well, at least they moved out of the Sleep Train Arena (Zzzz…)]

-Memphis [our opponents… ¬†(lonesome blues…)]

-Oklahoma City [gotta like these guys…because this is the only pro action in the whole state…God bless ’em]

So San Antonio = 1.

Memphis = 1.

1, on this scale, is not good.

1 is the sound of crickets.

[the loneliest number…]

In comparison (across the three major sports):

-New York City = 6

-Los Angeles = 6

-San Francisco Bay Area = 5 (shortly to be 4…in 2020…as Las Vegas finally gets 1)

-Chicago = 4

So you get the picture.

These are big fucking cities.

Like London.

For our purposes.

But there are some other relatively pathetic American locales…and we’d like to commiserate with them for a moment:

-Nashville

-Buffalo

-San Diego

-Jacksonville

-Green Bay

Back to the game…

Kawhi Leonard, my favorite player, scored 32 quiet points.

And what an appropriate word.

“Walk softly and carry a big stick,” said Teddy Roosevelt.

Leonard is that kind of bloke.

He will beat you.  Pick your pocket.  Put up 30.  Before you can even really react.

He is the consummate professional.

Always improving.

No one saw this coming.

Not the Spurs’ scouts.

Not the front office.

This kid is now a man.

And he barely rustled a leaf on the way to his part in this thorough shellacking.

LaMarcus Aldridge was great as always.

But “the others”, as Charles Barkley puts it, were huge.

Dewayne Dedmon.

8 rebounds.  In 18 minutes.

And Tony Parker (Vive la France!)…

A great, gritty performance!

18 points.

Danny Green.

4 blocked shots.  At the shooting guard position!

David Lee and Pau Gasol were both +22 while on the court.

Which doesn’t say much for Memphis’ plan of bringing Zach Randolph off the bench.

Davis Bertans was cool as a Latvian cucumber while hitting his only 3-point look from the corner.

Patty Mills brought that Aussie energy.  Even in his ubiquitous towel-waving.

Kyle Anderson was a quiet +17. ¬†Very efficient. ¬†Smart player. ¬†The Spurs’ length is bothering Memphis in some respects.

Bryn Forbes was good, if nervous, in his first playoff basketball.  Congrats, rookie!

Jonathon Simmons always brings the highlights.  A great dunk.  And a nasty block!

And Manu Ginobili. ¬†+18…and a banged-up eye socket. ¬†Hope he’s alright!

For the Grizzlies, Marc Gasol was scary-good in the first half.

But the Spurs found a way to slow him down.

There were few highlights for the Grizzlies.

Wayne Selden had a pretty nasty dunk!

And JaMychal Green hit a 3 (didn’t know he had that in his game).

But Zach Randolph was a -39 (!) while on the court.

Yikes!!!

The Grizzlies just seem overmatched.

It’s a shame for them that the extremely-gritty Tony Allen is not available.

I respect the hell outta that guy.

Always plays his butt off!

On a lighter note, it seems the Grizzlies are veering towards aristocracy in their HR needs.

James Ennis III. ¬†Ok…

And Wade Baldwin IV… ¬†What?!?

Seriously!

These guys need to build a castle on Beale Street and get a prince or a duke to round out the bunch.

Or they could trade the whole squad for the King (Lebron).

But that would be weird…”the King”…in Memphis???

Some things are just not meant to be ūüôā

-PD

Super Bowl LI [2017)

In what can only be described as an act of God.

force majeure

Almost one-to-one correspondence with U.S. election.

Two of the only celebrities to endorse Trump.

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

It wasn’t a popular position.

Unenviable, really.

Like being 25 down.

When the biggest turnaround in 50 years had been 14.

Right?

Well, one thing’s for sure: ¬†the first overtime.

In 51 years, the big game had never needed extra minutes.

Quite simply the best football game I’ve ever seen.

I almost didn’t watch it.

Sure, I liked the underdog Falcons.

But when a team is getting stomped, the tables turn.

Overdog becomes underdog.

Patriots got no shot, right?

It’s over.

Hillary’s our next President.

Might as well not even go to the polls.

But they started chipping.

You’re gonna have to score twice.

And convert two two-point conversions.

[a sentence which only makes sense in America]

It was a sweet victory.

Even with one of the worst companies on Earth (PepsiCo) sponsoring the halftime show.

[headed by the world’s worst CEO: ¬†Indra Nooyi]

And even with Lady Gaga spirit cooking her “heil Hillary” butt off under the aegis of Pepsi.

And even with all the liberal, rubbish commercials.

And especially with the NFL commercial which took a shot at Tom Brady for being a sore loser.

Nice try, NFL.

But you just got owned by a winner.

Fucking hell…

Tom Brady.

So Mr. Brady and Mr. Belichick, thank you for sticking your necks out when you had nothing to gain.

You were pro-Trump.

When the world had their heads up their asses.

And tonight proved what heart and hard work do.

No panic.

Just steady determination.

You don’t win them all.

But you are never in a position to win if you don’t keep on fighting till the very end.

-PD

Caddyshack [1980)

I’m so happy to be bringing you an actual film review today.

Even though I’m under the weather.

Yes, the airborne molds here in San Antonio seem to have brought on a nasty head cold.

[And before that it was the mountain cedar pollen.  It seems my city is among the five worst in the U.S. for allergens!]

But nothing does the health quite as much good as a larf ūüôā

And I must say, categorically, that Caddyshack is a masterpiece.

I suspected as much, but I never truly analyzed every bit of dialogue.

Till now.

And let me just start off by saying, the screenwriters responsible for this film deserve immense kudos.

First, Douglas Kenney.

If you go to the¬†Caddyshack¬†page on Wikipedia, you will notice that Mr. Kenney has no hypertext love for his name in the “informatics” box.

[Correction, Kenney’s name under the heading “Writers” is not hypertext-enabled, but his name is linkable elsewhere on the page.]

The story of Mr. Kenney is sad.

The strangest part is, HE DOES indeed have a Wikipedia page!

So why no link to the Caddyshack page?

My guess is that this film (and its stakeholders) probably want to distance themselves from the late- Mr. Kenney.

And that’s the saddest part.

You see, Douglas Kenney died almost exactly a month after Caddyshack was released.

Apparently Mr. Kenney was depressed about the bad reviews Caddyshack had gotten.

It’s a tragic story.

But we’re here to celebrate this wonderful film!

And there are two more writers to credit.

Harold Ramis, who passed away in 2014, is also credited with writing our timeless work.

And finally, Brian Doyle-Murray (who is thankfully still with us).

These three writers crafted a great story.

But most importantly, they should be revered for the fantastic banter which they concocted.

In its own way, the script for¬†Caddyshack deserves a prominent place next to Ernest Lehman’s¬†North by Northwest.

But to pull off great lines, you need great actors.

And Caddyshack is chockfull of masterful performances.

But first let’s take a look at the socioeconomic aspects of this story.

The action is completely set at a posh golf course in Nebraska:  Bushwood Country Club.

While some of the allegorical caricatures are a bit crude (indeed, the whole film is gloriously crude), there is a nice message to this film.

Quite simply, it is the “haves” and the “have-nots”.

And the main, anarchist “have-nots” are the caddies.

Those lowly youngsters who schlep golf bags up and down green hills in lieu of golf carts.

It’s funny…

The manager of the Caddy Shack (actually played by writer Brian Doyle-Murray) holds the specter of replacement over the young caddies’ heads.

Shape up, or you’ll be replaced by golf carts.

[Or something to that effect]

I can hear the same strains echoing from my local McDonald’s (though I never go there).

You want fifteen dollars an hour?

Great.

Hello robots.

But these kids put up with a lot of shit.

And, though this film doesn’t get this in-depth, I feel for the youngsters who are out there working crappy jobs.

America is fucked up.

A cashier at a corner store shouldn’t be prevented from getting antibiotics for her infected tooth.

She shouldn’t have to miss work because we can’t figure out this problem.

I’m guessing she can’t afford the doctor’s visit.

Or the visit to a clinic.

But that’s pretty sad.

It’s like panhandling…

No one would dream of such an existence.

So we gotta be less cynical.

Yeah, panhandlers will try any trick in the book.

But in the final estimation, one must really feel sorry for anyone who has no better options than to spend their time begging (or, for that matter, hawking cigarettes for minimum wage at the Kwik-E-Mart).

But I digress…

The late- Ted Knight did a great job of playing the yuppie villain in this film.

You want to go to law school? ¬†And your parents can’t afford it?

Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too.

It’s a bloody-jawdropping line from our three screenwriters!

Ted Knight plays Judge Smails.

Yes, a real piece of work he is!

The “good-old-boys” network.

Even up in Nebraska.

Perhaps a jab at Warren Buffett?

We know, of course, that Mr. Buffett was having a very convenient charity golf tournament the morning of 9/11 at Offutt Air Force Base.

And Offutt is the central node of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

And George W. Bush eventually made his way to Offutt on 9/11 (after stopping over at the second most important nuke site, Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana).

And then there was the jet owned by Mr. Buffett that was conveniently in the air near Flight 93 in Pennsylvania.

And Ms. Anne Tatlock who would have normally been in her office at Fiduciary Trust Company in the World Trade Center, but was playing golf with Warren Buffett.

Fiduciary Trust lost 87 employees on the morning of 9/11 when Flight 175 slammed into the WTC.

But Tatlock was in Omaha.

Too crazy to be true?

And who were the other invitees at Buffett’s event?

Let’s return to comedy, shall we? ūüôā

Chevy Chase is fantastic as Ty Webb in our film.

He has no editing mechanism.

Here is a guy so effortlessly-rich that he just says whatever is on his mind.

Remind you of anyone?

And if that pointed-allusion to our PEOTUS isn’t pithy enough, we then have Rodney Dangerfield’s ostentatious character: ¬†a realtor!

Remember, in 1978 (two years before Caddyshack) the villain of Superman (Lex Luthor) was also a realtor.

It’s an interesting meme.

Indeed, the word “meme” was coined just two years before THAT (in Richard Dawkins’ 1976 book¬†The Selfish Gene).

So perhaps it was just the Zeitgeist, but our writers had latched onto something with the realtor trope.

However, as stated, the villain of Caddyshack is the venal Judge Smails.

Rodney Dangerfield (who was magnificent in this film) is very much an anti-villain:  the enemy of our enemy.

Dangerfield’s character Al Czervik may be¬†nouveau riche, but he has many redeeming qualities.

To reel in one of my favorite memes, he puts the disruptive in “disruptive innovation” (thank you Clay Christensen).

I mean, really…you gotta hand it to a guy with Budweiser on tap in his golf bag ūüôā

But perhaps the most important character is Carl (played to genius proportions by Bill Murray).

Carl is the slack-jawed “assistant [head?] greenskeeper” whose internal monologue is just audible enough to guide us through this film.

Every film critic should identify with Carl (except, of course, the “successful” ones).

Here’s a guy who basically lives in the toolshed.

I mean, the scene where Chevy Chase “plays through” is just classic!

Carl eventually does a little housekeeping with a leaf blower (presaging the eccentric roots of Beck Hansen [whose dust-choking start was still a ways off in 1980]).

But Carl really makes this film tick.

He is the Fanfare for the Common Man.

And there are Bronx cheers in place of the timpani!

[Did somebody sit on a duck?]

Sarah Holcomb probably doesn’t get much credit for her role in this film, but she should.

Ms. Holcomb was born on September 11, 1958.

This was her last film (according to Wikipedia).

While her Irish accent is a bit grating (because, I am guessing, it is merely a plot device), she is a joyful presence in this film.

Ah, but Cindy Morgan really steals the show as Lacey Underall.

And she’s not just a pretty face!

Her acting (and chemistry with Chevy Chase) is really remarkable.

Plus, she has the best line of the film:

“BULLFIGHTS ON ACID.”

God, I love that line…

Which takes us back to our writers.

These guys were really something!

But I haven’t even mentioned the¬†auteur¬†of our film.

It was, indeed, one of the three writers:  Harold Ramis.

Sure, there are cheap stunts (actually, $8 mil. worth…in 1980!).

But they almost all work beautifully.

For instance, the¬†Jaws¬†spoof with the Baby Ruth in the swimming pool ūüôā

I mean, God…what a concept!

And even little touches…like Ted Knight hacking through the bathroom door with a golf club instead of an axe (√† la¬†The Shining).

The Shining, incidentally, was released about two months before Caddyshack.

[Jaws hailed from 1975 and Jaws 2 had dropped in 1978.]

It’s hard to say to what extent Bill Murray and Chevy Chase improvised in this film.

The same goes for Rodney Dangerfield.

These were/are comedic geniuses.

So no doubt a good bit of credit for the final product goes to these three gentlemen.

But Harold Ramis pulled it all together.

And so, dear friends, if you haven’t seen this film, then you absolutely must.

It’s not¬†Gone With the Wind, but it’s a very significant milestone in the development of cinema.

-PD

Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys, January 15 [2017)

I return to my rare coverage of sports with this cinematic review of an American football game.

A playoff game.

Yes, the stakes increase.

I must admit that I have been battling health issues for some time so I am sorry that I am not spinning webs of verbal wonder about Jean-Luc Godard.

But it is, as I have said before, quite worthwhile (in my opinion) to examine the medium of television and the content which comes to us in such a format.

So to clarify, this was a live sporting event which I just watched.

Sports are very difficult to consume in any way but the freshest, most simultaneous manner.

You want the action to be happening at the very time you’re watching.

And with exception for a 5-second delay (?), that is what you get.

When a game is advertised as “live”, you are fairly close to the action in terms of temporal simultaneity.

And so this was “live”.

And just as tense as any Hitchcock film!

The Dallas Cowboys had a wonderful season.

I make no bones about them being my favorite NFL team.

It is a family activity for me.

Indeed, I was blessed to have my family watch this game with me.

But, particularly, it is a chance to bond with my father.

He has always been more of a football fan than me.

And so I support the team to have a common interest with my dad.

But after awhile, one becomes invested in the outcome.

I watched nearly all of the Cowboys’ games this year.

As I said, they had a fantastic season.

The biggest Cinderella story (the most trite metaphor in sports writing) was that of Dak Prescott.

I must hand it to Fox announcer Joe Buck.

Just minutes before Prescott scored on a quarterback sneak to knot the game at 28, Buck recounted Prescott’s amazing story.

Prescott’s story is very much the story of his late-mother (who passed away from colon cancer).

But let’s talk about how we got to 28-all.

First of all, Dak Prescott was as good if not better than the quarterback across from him:  Aaron Rodgers.

The numbers bear this out.

If Rodgers was better, it was by mere inches and seconds.

Prescott did not have a chance to win this game at the end.

At all.

Unless…

Yes, Aaron Rodgers was fantastic.

And we will remember his performance in this game.

But it really was a case of two great quarterback performances.

Granted, they both threw an interception apiece.

And while Prescott bested Rodgers in touchdown passes (not to mention the QB sneak for two points), that hardly matters if your team loses.

This separates the NFL from the NBA.

In American basketball, teams get innumerable chances to redeem themselves.

Each round of the playoffs is a best-of-seven series.

But American football (at the highest professional level) is “win or go home”.

And so this was a very tense game.

Dallas looked atrocious from the start.

Aaron Rodgers looked unstoppable.

But Dallas overcame an 18-point deficit to tie the game.

And then tie it again.

It certainly was not a relaxing watch if one had any sort of emotional investment in it.

And I did.

When Dak Prescott scored that “two-point conversion”, it was a magical moment.

The Cowboys had done it.

They’d been down and out.

But they fought back.

Their no-name defense made stops.

Their offense rounded into form.

But there are no ties in the NFL playoffs.

There must be a winner.

We will play all night long, but one team will be counted superior on that particular date…and that’s the end of that story.

I’m happy for the Green Bay Packers.

Green Bay is not a big town (from what I understand).

I imagine many people there LIVE for Packers games.

It reminds me of my (much warmer) hometown.

Here in San Antonio, all we have is the Spurs.

It’s a basketball town.

I’m a basketball guy.

But ever since I can remember, my dad has rooted for the Cowboys.

They’ve had some good years.

But (as they say), if you don’t win your final game, it’s a disappointment.

But let’s give some “propers”, as they say.

Kudos to Ty Montgomery.

He scored two rushing touchdowns for the Packers.

Here’s a guy (now I sound like John Madden) who wears number 88 at the running back position.

But the guy has a lot of heart.

He might have too-high a center of gravity, but he runs with courage.

And how ’bout Ezekiel Elliott?

What a season!

Led the NFL in rushing.

As a rookie!

And had a fine day here with 125 yards.

Thank you, Zeke, for a fantastic season!

The Cowboys look to have a bright future with such players ūüôā

Of course, the catch of the game was by a guy named Jared Cook.

These NFL receivers…

The scrutiny under which their every move is put!

Jared Cook dragged his two feet in the field of play while catching a 35-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers.

It was an amazing play.

And if you’re a Cowboys fan (like me), a heartbreaker.

But I see positives here.

Dez Bryant caught his first postseason touchdown in this game.

And then doubled it.

[He ended with two TDs]

Jason Witten caught his first postseason touchdown in this game.

This just goes to show what a great quarterback Dak Prescott is.

All those years with Tony Romo…and no TDs for Bryant nor Witten.

So the Cowboys (despite 125 yards from Ezekiel Elliott) were not a “one-trick pony” in this game.

[Talk about literally “trotting out” a metaphor…]

But Dak came to a painful conclusion.

Winning in the NFL is hard.

Damned hard!

And now the onus looks to be on Prescott.

Tony Romo had the shoulda coulda woulda put on him for so many years.

Congratulations, kid: ¬†it’s your job now.

Win, and everyone loves you.

Lose, and you’re a loser.

But not really.

Yes, Tony Romo will probably move on to greener pastures.

I wish Tony the best.

[Talk about a person with health issues!]

I hope the job of QB in Dallas remains Dak’s.

He’s earned it.

First playoff game?

A loss by three points while time expires.

And a gargantuan effort to erase an 18-point hole.

Sure, haters gonna hate ūüôā

Yes, Dak threw a pick on a screen pass.

But that was one hell of a play by Micah Hyde (and a great “shirt tackle” by Dez Bryant to save it from being a “pick six”).

Yes, it was a rookie mistake.

But what about Aaron Rodgers being picked off by a diving Jeff Heath?!?

Heath had as good a game as Hyde.

But it all came down to the feet.

And ice water in the veins (as they say).

Mason Crosby gave the Packers a 31-28 lead.

Dan Bailey tied it at 31-all.

Then Crosby kicked the game-winning field goal.

Twice!

[Dallas coach Jason Garrett tried to “ice” Crosby by calling a timeout]

On this afternoon, Green Bay was the better team.

Not by much.

But it was a clear result.

Rodgers was magnificent.

Jared Cook made the catch of his career (so far).

And Mason Crosby owned the kicker position.

I wish Dan Bailey had gotten one more chance.

I wish Dak Prescott had gotten one more chance.

But them’s the rules.

Whoever has more points when the clock runs out.

It’s always a bit of a sad thing for a sporting season to end.

Nothing more pathetic than looking at the next year’s mock draft ūüôā

Yes, guilty as charged.

But this was an immensely positive season for the Dallas Cowboys.

No one had them going 13-3 in the regular season.

What great experience for Dak Prescott!

He’s battle-tested now.

And so we hope to live to see another year of Cowboys’ football.

Thank you to all the Dallas players who played their butts off tonight and every weekend.

We’re proud of you.

And congratulations to the city of Green Bay.

You have a great team of which to be truly proud.

Best wishes to your city and may the Packers fans enjoy this victory.

Kudos to Wisconsin for supporting pro football in the little city of Green Bay for so long!

-PD

Kingpin [1996)

The concept of the “family” movie has changed since¬†The Sound of Music¬†in 1965.

Wikipedia, that grand arbiter of officiality, does not primarily recognize “family” as a genre.

They opt for “children’s film”.

Nonetheless, the Wiki article lists “family film” as an alternative name for this nebulous genre.

In 1965, The Beatles were still releasing albums like Rubber Soul.

1966 saw these same alchemists get a bit edgier with Revolver.

By 1967, the whole world was tripping balls to¬†Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

It’s important to document this sea change in pop culture by way of the personages pictured on the cover of¬†Sgt. Pepper’s:

-Aleister Crowley

-Lenny Bruce

-William S. Burroughs

-Karl Marx

-and many others.

Just these four personalities alone made for a shocking collection on the cover of what was sonically a hippy-dippy platter.

But maketh thou no mistake:  The Beatles were self-consciously out to SHOCK!

1971.

By then, The Beatles were no more.

1968 had come and gone (violently). ¬†And The Beatles had reached their zenith (or nadir) of angst with songs like “Helter Skelter” (from “The White Album“).

There were no new Beatles albums in 1971.

Indeed, there was never again a “new” Beatles album

But 1971 gave us Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.

And so, about four years late, Hollywood managed to weave the psychedelia of¬†Sgt. Pepper’s into a bona fide family classic.

It took a while longer before Hollywood had another idea with legs (other than just borrowing from the great minds in rock music).

Aliens!

It is worth noting that the three original Star Wars films (1977, 1980, and 1983) were interpolated in 1982 by a cute alien named E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Sure, there were classic superheroes (like Superman in 1978), but the next real wave was another coup of futuristic thinking.

Time machines.

The Back to the Future franchise raked in whopping revenue of nearly a billion dollars at the box office over the release years of 1985, 1989, and 1990.

But still, no major taboos had been broken in this fragile genre.

There was no¬†auteur conversant in James Monaco’s theories on “exploding genres”.

Yet, two films from this same period stick out as family-proto (not proto-family).

1988: ¬†Who Framed Roger Rabbit? ¬†[ooh la la…stretching the genre like Jessica Rabbit stretched her red sequin gown]

-1989: ¬†National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation¬†[a real benchmark or signpost…perhaps not as racy a¬†National Lampoon’s Vacation, but still edgy enough to elicit laughter during “the decline of the West” (as Oswald Spengler put it)]

Which almost brings us to the unlikely masterpiece that is Kingpin.

Randy Quaid had been counted on by the National Lampoon franchise for his peerless role of Cousin Eddie.

By 1996, he would become a priceless asset for the makers of Kingpin.

It is hard to chart how we went from¬†The Sound of Music to¬†Kingpin…even with the help of the inestimable Beatles.

If we are to really reach our goal (an explanation), we must follow the followers–the children of The Beatles.

-1970: ¬†Syd Barrett was still bloody mad (and brilliant) on¬†The Madcap Laughs¬†[especially the song “No Good Trying”]

-The Mothers of Invention released albums titled Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped My Flesh [pretty odd, edgy stuff]

-and international artists like Amon D√ľ√ľl II (from Germany) gave the world a whole new organic, electro-bombastic sound to attempt to decode

-1971: ¬†The Krautrock invasion continued with CAN’s¬†Tago Mago

-Tribal hippies Comus found the perfect sound with First Utterance

-1972:  Hawkwind released their cosmic, perpetual-motion masterpiece Doremi Fasol Latido

-1973:  Pink Floyd changed the cultural landscape with Dark Side of the Moon (perhaps presaging the space/aliens films which would preoccupy family film makers in the coming years)

-Brian Eno melted many minds with his masterpiece Here Come the Warm Jets (complete with the balding artist on the cover in drag)

But we missed something significant:

Led Zeppelin.

If the 1970s belonged to any one band, it was this one.

-their first two albums were released in 1969

-by the time of Led Zeppelin III (1970), they were competing against overt (though clownish) occultists like Black Sabbath [Jimmy Page of Zeppelin being a more covert, zealous admirer of Aleister Crowley]

Led Zeppelin IV was released in 1971

Houses of the Holy saw the light of day in 1973

Physical Graffiti dropped in 1975

But as Led Zeppelin began to peter out, another group picked up the slack and streamlined the music.  Their message was as tough as their humor was bawdy.

AC/DC slapped the world with High Voltage (1976), Let There Be Rock (1977), and other masterpieces which made for a loud world.

But music was just getting started in asserting its agenda for Hollywood.

Iggy Pop dropped two masterpieces in 1977.  One light and tough (Lust for Life), and the other a much darker affair (The Idiot).

But the real earthquake…the real force which rent the curtain in the temple was¬†Nevermind the Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols.

From this album in 1977, nothing was ever the same again.

And so the film under consideration, Kingpin, was born from many decades of broken taboos.

Some would call this “progressive” (and then proceed to solicit a donation).

Oswald Spengler might rightly have called it The Decline of the West.

But in the case of Kingpin, I can only call it funny.

I can’t pass judgement on film since 1965.

As to whether it is fit for families to view together.

But I can pass judgement on this film insofar as its most important merit.

It’s damned funny!

I was Munsoned by Cinema Paradiso.  Long ago.

I thought I had a chance. ¬†But I was Amish. ¬†I just didn’t know it yet.

But let’s first start by talking about the dirtbags who frame this film.

#1 is Woody Harrelson (though he starts as just a protégé).

Woody has had an interesting life.

When I was growing up in San Antonio, one of our family shows to watch after the 10 p.m. news was Cheers.  This gave us great comfort.  Great laughs.  And Woody played the character Woody Boyd.  One of the bright spots of a great television cast.

But Woody Harrelson’s dad was a hitman (in real life). ¬†And he killed (in 1979) U.S. federal judge John H. Wood Jr. right here in my hometown: ¬†San Antonio.

It was a drug hit. ¬†Harrelson’s father hired for $250,000 to shoot and kill this judge outside of his home. ¬†The drug dealer who hired Harrelson got 30 years. ¬†Harrelson got life in jail.

Harrelson denied in court that he killed Judge Wood.  He claimed he just took credit for it so he could collect the money.

Well, all of this backstory fits quite nicely into the dirtbag saint Woody Harrelson plays in Kingpin.

#2 is Bill Murray. ¬†Bill is an old hand (no pun intended). ¬†Bill’s character teaches Woody a lot, but Bill’s a real bastard in this film. ¬†Of course, this is a comedy. ¬†So his ostentatious cruelty is worth a few snickers here and there.

At this point it is worth mentioning the twisted (gifted) minds which brought us this film: the Farrelly brothers.

Peter Farrelly (whose birthday is two day away) and his slightly-younger brother Bobby Farrelly.

You might know them from their work such as¬†Dumb and Dumber and the Jonathan-Richman-chalked¬†There’s Something About Mary.

[N.B.  Richman makes a great cameo in Kingpin.  We may not have Lou Reed anymore, but thank God for Jonathan!]

The action of our film shifts from Ocelot, Iowa (“Instead of a dentured ocelot on a leash…”) to hard-scrabble Scranton, Pennsylvania.

[home of “Creepy” Joe Biden]

Randy Quaid (#MAGA) is fantastic as an Amish rube with a promising set of bowling skills.

Somewhere along the way, the opportunistic Harrelson becomes Quaid’s manager.

I got great joy out of seeing this.

Because there are few more difficult things than managing “personalities”.

I’ve done it.

Now I have an advanced degree in management.

And still, I know…it’s hard!

But back to family films.

This IS a family film.

But it is also an example of what the family film has become.

In general, this picture would not be suitable for young children to view.

That’s just my opinion.

But perhaps it’s a subgenre of family film.

It’s something which parents with high-school-aged kids MIGHT be able to enjoy with their children.

But I leave that discretion up to the parents.

Because the Farrelly brothers like to SHOCK!

It’s funny. ¬†They’re good at it. ¬†It has a point. ¬†But it might be too lewd for some families.

Speaking of which, it is a quite interesting device with which the Farrellys chose to frame their film:  the Amish.

It borders on surreal, but this bawdy comedy always has the temperate presence of the Amish throughout.

In a certain way, I think it does great honor to the Amish.

From an entertainment perspective, it’s genius.

But this is also a road movie.

And we know strange things happen on the road.

I was just so impressed by Woody Harrelson’s acting. ¬†It’s effortless. ¬†Flawless.

And I was equally impressed by Randy Quaid’s¬†na√Įvet√©. ¬†Truly an acting coup!

But the film gets REALLY interesting when Vanessa Angel hops on the bandwagon!!

Remember her from Spies Like Us, emerging from that snow-covered tent in her underwear?

Yeah, that’s her.

And it turns out that she’s a very good actress!

Ah, but thank God for condoms!!!

At the end, you will feel proud of your efforts.

To walk out the door everyday into a corrupt world.

We are all sinners.

But music saves us.

“Bad Reputation” by Freedy Johnston is a revelation.

And makes me wistfully recall my last days as a professional musician.

“I Want Candy” is such a tough beat! ¬†The Strangeloves!!!

“I Saw the Light” by Todd Rundgren is magical music at a magical moment in this film.

“Showdown” by Electric Light Orchestra is the perfect tune to pit Murray against Harrelson.

But the real eyeopener was hearing “Something in the Air” by Thunderclap Newman.

Such a magical song!

Great movie.  Great acting.  Comes from a place of reality.

-PD

Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants, Dec. 11 [2016)

It’s been awhile since I weighed in on a sporting event.

The common theme with my other media reviews is that this game (like a movie or television show) was projected on a screen.  More or less.

Projection probably isn’t the right word here.

We could ask Desargues…or Poncelet.

But let’s move on past that slight confusion.

What we had here was indeed a live televised American football game with (I’m sure) a several-second delay. ¬†Meaning, it’s not technically “live” in the sense of simultaneity.

But again, these are not the usual concerns of sports writers.

And I don’t pretend to be a sports writer.

But as a film critic, how am I to approach such a viewing experience?

I have my team (the Dallas Cowboys).

They are the protagonists (hopefully the heroes) in a tale which I desire to turn out a certain way.

Continuing this adversarial dichotomy, there were the New York Giants:  the antagonists.

The villains.  The bad guys.

This is all, of course, strictly from my personal perspective.

But we do need a little backstory.

The Cowboys came in with the NFL’s best record at 11-1.

The Giants had a respectable 8-3 mark at kickoff.

The deeper backstory was that NY had given Dallas its lone defeat this season.

The 1 on the other side of the 11.

Dallas came in with the two hottest, most unbelievable rookies in the league this season:  quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Well, folks…this one was much like the season opener…when the Cowboys lost by one point.

Prescott entered tonight’s game having thrown 19 touchdowns to only two interceptions.

Sadly, Dak threw two more before the night was over.

It was really an off game for him.

While things looked good early (when Dak hit Terrance Williams for a touchdown), the play ended up being the Cowboys’ only score of the night.

This was a rough game to watch.

Not exciting.

A defensive battle.

Very low-scoring.

Eli Manning for the Giants was not particularly good.

He turned the ball over three times (two fumbles lost and one interception), and yet one pass to Odell Beckham Jr. made all the difference.

Ezekiel Elliott rushed for over 100 yards, but it was a quiet 107.

Perhaps the weather really did play a factor for both teams.

The temperature I saw was 31 Fahrenheit.

There was a light dusting of snow or ice on the Giants’ home field.

But as this was a defensive game, let’s talk about these two defenses.

Sean Lee was magnificent for the Cowboys (as usual) with 18 tackles.

Barry Church, ailing arm and all, had 8 tackles.

But a real bright spot for the Cowboys was Benson Mayowa.

Here’s an undrafted guy from Idaho (not exactly a football powerhouse) making a difference on Sunday Night Football (perhaps the marquee time slot for American football games).

Mayowa had one of the exciting sacks which seemed to bode well for the Cowboys.

But Dallas couldn’t turn it into points.

Tyrone Crawford had another great sack of Eli Manning.

Even rookie Anthony Brown, a Sixth Round draft pick from Purdue, had his first career interception on this night.

But the Dallas offense just could not figure out the New York defense to a significant enough extent.

Even the sure-footed Dan Bailey missed a long field goal off the crossbar of the goalpost to end the first half.

That “doink” sound pretty much sums up what was a rather disappointing outing for the Dallas Cowboys.

New York, minus their big dog Jason Pierre-Paul, was able to get excellent production from  a Nigerian rookie named Romeo Okwara.  Okwara is an undrafted rookie who went to Notre Dame.  Romeo [wherefore are thou] led the Giants on the night with 8 tackles.

Also effective for the Giants were Landon Collins (a second-year player out of Alabama) and Janoris Jenkins (in his fifth year out of North Alabama).

Providing additional defensive firepower for the G-Men was Eli Apple:  a highly-drafted rookie out of THE Ohio State University.

I’m sure Ezekiel Elliott was not enjoying losing his first road game since high school…especially with his former college teammate Apple on the other side.

But that’s The Big Apple. ¬†And that’s sports.

In a game which saw each team punt nine times, the proceedings mostly progressed with anticipation.

Williams and Beckham Jr. had the only two touchdowns.  And they were both fantastic plays.

But this was a snoozer of a game.

I just wish my team had come out on top ūüôā

But there’s no crying in football. ¬†Or is that baseball?

Regardless, the Cowboys have had a magical season.

And they have three more regular season games to show that they truly belong at the top of the rankings heading into the postseason.

The eleven-game winning streak is over, but the real season is just beginning.

-PD

Rocky [1976)

Here we have a great film.

From an actor with whom I was so lucky as to work on one occasion.

Sylvester Stallone.

It was an honor.

And yet, I didn’t really get it.

That this movie, Rocky, was so central to the American dream.

But it’s more than that.

It’s the backdrop of Philadelphia.

The streets.

The eggs.

The meat.

The iron gates you gotta kick open.

And the screenless door you gotta reach around.

It’s the machete stuck in the wall.

And the black leather jacket to hang over the handle.

The knife stabbed into the wall.

And the black fedora that hangs on it.

But most of all it is Talia Shire.

To offset the brutality of boxing.

A shy soul.

In kitty cat glasses.

It’s the pet store.

The failed jokes.

The parakeets like flying candy.

And Butkus the dog.

You know, I don’t hear so well…because I got punched too many times…taking my best shot at music.

And so I’m a bum…but I got into the arena for a good 15 years.

And those final four…when I was a contender.

When I met Sylvester Stallone.

I was standing next to greatness.

A great actor.  A great figure in film history.

We are taught to denigrate our American movies.

That they could never be as good as the French.

But the American films inspired the French.

It was Truffaut and company took Hitchcock from novelty to pantheon.

But it’s shy Talia.

Telling a story.  A real love.

Getting up in years.¬† And maybe she’s retarded.

Maybe he’s dumb.

But to him she’s the prettiest star.

And he perseveres.

However many rounds it takes.

Because fate has called him to one woman.

Why does he fight, she asks.

It’s a big obstacle.

For Rocky and Adrian to overcome the awkwardness of their collective insecurities.

For them to communicate.

But it’s such a beautiful story.

Pithy.  Gritty.

When Pauly throws the Thanksgiving turkey out into the alley.

It’s dysfunction.¬† Dysfunction everywhere.

Abusive meat packing desperation.

Always an ass pocket full of whiskey.

And just a favor to the loan shark.

I can break thumbs.

But you don’t wanna do that.

The protector.

In the world of crime, but not of the world of crime.

Poor, simple icebox.  Some cupcakes.

Never enough beer.  Anywhere.

And the genius of spectacle comes along.

Carl Weathers.  Like Clyde Drexler.

Reading The Wall Street Journal.

Like Trump…thinking big…and juxtaposing entities.

To speak to the sentimental.  Sentimental.

Because you don’t wanna be known as a whore.

It’s that reputation.¬† A hard lesson.

Big brother to a little sister.

You don’t wanna smoke.

Make yer teeth yellow.

Breath rotten.

But you gotta work.

To stay in this game.

Train.  Train.  Train.

And maybe you get one shot.

It all comes down to this.

Burgess Meredith like Rod Marinelli.

The wisdom of hard knock cracks.

But we like ice skating.

$10 for ten minutes.

A date.

A tip.

When you give life back to a prisoner of home.

When you give love to a lonely fighter.

Misunderstood.

Rough around the edges.

Desperation of poverty Pauly.

Makes us all a little crazy to be so trapped economically.

But God has called you to greatness.

And will you answer that call?

Can you imagine the career?

Is anything at all clear?

We only know tenacity.

Fighting till the very end.

Hospital and next day Pentagon basement.

Be an expert for your country.

So many skills needed for a nation to flourish.

Trust.

Go the distance is not just Field of Dreams (another great sporting film).

Going the distance.  Till the very end.  Tour of duty.

God, please get me back home.

We’re so close now.

You’ll have to cut me so I can see.

“When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez” and you only want to hear her say “I love you”.

And she you.

You made it.

You lost by decision.  But you proved it to yourself.

That you could go the full fifteen rounds with the best.

The best and brightest.

That you could be the shy, awkward bum to overcome.

Don’t say that.

You’re not a bum.

We want.  Need.  That positive reinforcement.

When the whole world tells us we’re losers.

You won by keeping going.  Every day.

 

-PD